One of the most old-fashioned ways to bless a missionary is to send them a package. In order to do this well, it is probably best to first ask the missionary if it is ok for them to receive packages. They will be able to tell you any information that you might need to send the package in the best way possible. You will need to know:
- What can or cannot be sent to them
- How best to send it (Fed Ex, UPS, USPS, etc.)
- Any fees they may have to pay to get the package out of customs
- If it can contain anything regarding God, Jesus or Christianity
- What they may need or want.
There are a few things that are NOT good things to send. Do NOT send:
- Used clothing in outdated or poor condition. If you wouldn’t wear it, don’t send it.
- Baked goods (unless specifically requested). You do not know how long the package will be in transit, and the food may be stale or in crumbs by the time the missionary gets it.
- Old and outdated books and commentaries (unless the missionary knows about them and wants them). These are heavy and hard to ship. If the missionary has to pay to get things out of customs, they may have to pay more than they are worth.
- Outdated media. Those old VHS tapes and musical tapes that you don’t want…they don’t want them either. (And they may not have a way to even play them!)
The moral of the story is this: you can bless a missionary with a package, but check with them first!
Many people would love to help a missionary out, but do not have extra cash lying around to hand out. One practical way that you can help a missionary is to donate services to them. Maybe you own a small business or maybe you have a particular skill that can be useful to them. Even if you cannot donate the entire amount of a service, you might have a coupon for a particular service that would help them out a lot.
Here are some practical examples of ways you might help; use your imagination to come up with other ways that fit your skills and talents!
- Donate services for their car. Maybe they need an oil change or new tires. Maybe they need new brakes. Offer a discount if you have a car repair shop. Give them a free car wash.
- Offer to cut and color their hair. This is an expensive item that many missionaries do not treat themselves to regularly. If you know how to do this well, you can make them feel very pampered. (Just don’t walk up and say, “I can color your hair for you”! That might not be received well.)
- Donate airfare miles. Many people that travel a lot have these stored up. The missionary could use these to travel to churches in the USA or to help pay for a return ticket home.
- Offer to help fix their computer. Missionaries have IT problems just like the rest of us. If you are experienced with computers, you can be a huge help to a missionary with limited funds.
- Do yardwork for them for free while they are in the USA. This can be a huge timesaver and blessing to the missionary. This is also a great way to get your kids involved.
- Take pictures of them. If you can take professional quality pictures, your missionary would probably love to have some new, beautiful pictures of their family. They may need one to update their prayer card, newsletter, or blog.
- Offer free copies. If you happen to own a copy/print store, you can offer to make free copies of newsletters for them. Many churches might also be able to offer this service.
- Donate food. Do you own a restaurant, café, or food business? Treat them to a meal or two. Depending on the establishment, you could donate coffee, donuts, meals, ice cream, or cakes/cookies.
- Share your garden produce. If you’ve spent time and effort cultivating a garden in the summer, you probably have an abundance of produce. Ask the missionary if they would like some fresh garden food. Missionaries travel a lot, and it is a good idea to make sure they will be in town to be able to eat it.
- Do alterations. If you are a skilled seamstress or own an alteration shop, you can help a missionary alter clothing or hem pants.
- Tutor their kids. If you are a teacher, you could be very useful by tutoring their kids. Many MKs struggle to adjust during their time on “home assignment” and a tutor may be immensely helpful.
- Babysit. Offer to watch the MKs for a date night or for the parents to be able to attend doctor’s appointments, etc.
Depending on your skills and talents and what business you might own, you might be able to come up with even more ways to donate services to a missionary. Feel free to comment with other ways! Maybe you can come up with one that I did not think of!
As a former MK, I can testify that this is one way that you can be a huge blessing to a missionary family. Missionaries have limited budgets, and the money they get is frequently allocated to ministry needs and not so much towards things they want. Many missionary kids don’t have the same resources as the kids living in the United States.
Here are some practical ways to bless a missionary kid when they are back in the United States:
- Give them a gift. You can send one through the mail or buy them one when they are back in the United States.
- Give them some spending money. They probably have a list (or at least a few things) that they’d really like, but can’t afford.
- Take them out to eat. Listen to them, and get to know them personally.
- Encourage your kids to include them in parties, youth events, etc.
- Ask them on a play date if they are young.
- Offer to attend Sunday School or youth group with them. It is very intimidating to walk into a big group of kids and be the new, “weird” missionary kid. Even if they are back at their “home church”, it won’t be home for them and they will be uncomfortable. If they know you, you can help ease this transition.
- Sponsor them so they are able to go to a church camp.
- Host them if their parents are out of the country and they do not have a place to stay.
- Write a letter of recommendation for them if they are trying to obtain scholarships for college. (This requires for you to know them.)
- Buy them a gift when they graduate from high school.
- Throw them a “Going to College” shower. They may only have 1-2 suitcases of clothes to head to college, and the needs may be great. You can help provide sheets, pillows, a desk lamp, fan, school supplies, etc. This can be a surprise or you can ask the family what the MK’s specific needs are. You could even provide a gift card shower so the MK and their parents can go shopping and get what they need.
I was blessed to have people do several of the above things for me. I had a “Going to College” shower that was a huge blessing, both to me and my parents. My parents wanted to provide for all the things I might need before they left me and drove thousands of miles away, but they did not have the budget for it. Our local church sponsored a shower for me, and I was able to go to the dorm with all of the basics that I would need for my freshman year. It was a huge relief!
I also had a few people that gave me money over the years to spend on things I might want or need. One man wrote a letter of recommendation to help me get a scholarship for college. One sweet lady took me out to lunch (by myself) several times. Our family knew her, and approved, of course. It made me feel very special that she would invest time in me!
I hope you have been inspired to think outside the box today! How can you bless a Missionary Kid? Let me know if you have other ideas!
Missionaries visit many churches when they are back in the United States on home assignment. Some organizations help set up church visits, but many missionaries have to arrange their own visits to churches during their time in the US. With so many missionaries out there and a finite amount of churches and money available, it can be challenging for a missionary to get an appointment to talk with a missions committee or present their ministry in a church.
This is where you come in! A pastor is more likely to schedule a time to talk to a missionary or have them present their ministry to his church when he knows that some people in his local congregation know the missionary and believe in their ministry. Personal connections go a long way! What can you do?
- Find out when your missionary will be on “home assignment” or “furlough”
- Find out from your missionary if they would like to come to your church or if they would like you to ask about it
- Find out when your church has a “Missions Sunday” or if they allow missionaries to present at other times
- Approach your Missions Pastor or Lead Pastor with a proposal to have the missionary come. Be prepared to discuss your missionary with them and promote them. They might agree to a meeting with the pastor, a presentation in a Sunday School class, or a presentation from the pulpit. You never know!
- Have your missionary’s contact information available.
- If a meeting time is not possible, ask your pastor if your church provides for missionaries needs. Be prepared with one or two specific ideas of needs your missionary will have while in the US.
While this may seem like a waste of time to some or pointless to others, you would be surprised how much this can help! My family was able to visit many churches because of a local connection. Although not all of them were able to support us financially, some gave a one-time gift, and some joined as prayer partners. This was invaluable to my parent’s ministry.
Can you contact your local church leadership and advocate for a missionary? I challenge you to give it a try!
One of the main ways to bless a missionary is to write to them. Writing an email doesn’t take much time or effort, but can be a huge morale boost to a missionary serving abroad. Many missionaries are lonely for friendships. They also experience loneliness for the families and friendships that they left behind. Hearing from someone from their country of origin might just be what they need! And you don’t have to be eloquent or to be a great writer to do this!
If you are a new person to them:
- Introduce yourself and fill them in on who you are, who your family is, what your job is, etc. They will enjoy getting to know you, even if only through an email.
- Let them know how you found out about them.
- Ask questions about their ministry or their family.
- Ask if they have specific prayer requests or needs.
- Find out when they will be in the United States next, and plan to meet them in person.
If you already know them:
- Just tell them what has been going on in your life.
- Remind them about your job, family, etc., in case they might not remember.
- Fill them in on important news from their home church or home city. They may have not heard that a certain person moved away or died.
- Tell them if local people have received awards.
- Let them know if you saw their family member doing something important or great. You can help them still feel connected to where they came from.
Even if you don’t have a lot of time, you can still send a quick note. Just tell them you are thinking about them and praying for them. Let them know you appreciated their last newsletter or mention something that they wrote about. They will appreciate knowing that someone actually read their letter, and this will encourage them a great deal! So, get out there and write!